The following are the four most popular types of handgun ammunition issued to law-enforcement in the United States. Millions of rounds from these ammunition manufactures have been trusted by our nation’s elite law enforcement, including the FBI, Secret Service, and United States Sky Marshals, LAPD and NYPD. This ammunition isn’t the latest fad, and it has been thoroughly vetted by these agencies. It’s ammunition that you can depend on when it hits the fan. Don’t experiment. Buy what already works.
Handgun Ammunition Selection Philosophy:
When selecting a handgun for personal protection I suggest that one of the criteria you should consider is that it is already in wide use by law enforcement and military. There are several types of handguns that may have hundreds of thousands of units issued. This means that millions of rounds have been fired through these weapons. If there is some type of weakness in the design then all of these shooters will find it. I don’t have the time of money to experiment with new and trendy firearms only to find out that they are finicky, undependable, or inaccurate. I let thousands of police and military personnel do my testing and evaluations. If they can’t break their weapons with the abuse they inflict, then if I get the same one, with the love and care that I will provide it will run dependably and last forever. Why not also apply that same philosophy to defensive ammunition selection? Choose ammunition that is already used by countless law enforcement officers and agents all over the United States and the world.
Speer Gold Dot Hollow Point (GDHP):
Speer’s hollow point bullet with jacket bonded to lead core to prevent separation and control expansion and penetration.
The 165 grain .40 S&W is used by the Federal Flight Deck Officer armed airline pilot program and the US Customs & Border Protection.
The Las Vegas Metro Police Department uses three different calibers of GDHP.
The US Secret Service, US Federal Air Marshals, Texas Department of Public Safety, Virginia State Police, and Richmond PD use 125-gr. .357 SIG.
The 124 grain 9mm +P is used by the Chicago PD, and by 35,000 members of the NYPD. In the book The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery, author and well-known gun guru Massad Ayoob analyzes ballistic and terminal performance of handgun ammunition used in actual police shootings. Ayoob’s statistical analysis shows that the Speer Gold Dot 124 grain+P and the Winchester +P+ (now discontinued and succeeded by Winchester’s PDX1 line) is one of the two best man-stoppers in 9mm.
Per request by the FBI, Speer has developed a 135 grain 38 Special +P cartridge in their “Gold Dot” line specifically for snubnose revolvers. The cartridge’s design allows proper expansion at snubnose reduced velocities without sacrificing tactical penetration. The NYPD has authorized this round to be carried by detectives and police officers (backup and off-duty) in their snubnose revolvers. There are also offerings in other calibers specifically made for short barrel pistols (such as the Glock 26/27 or Smith & Wesson M&P Compact). Make sure that you order the ammo specifically made and labeled for short barrels.
Remington Golden Saber:
There is a difference between Remington Golden Saber and Golden Saber Bonded ammunition. With the “Bonded” version the bullet’s jacket is bonded to the bullet on a molecular level which helps keep the bullet from deforming past its intended expansion, and from disintegrating during barrier penetration. The Bonded version is going to be your best option if barrier penetration is important to you. If the packaging isn’t labeled “Bonded”, then it isn’t bonded.
The Remington Golden Saber “Bonded” 9mm +P was used by the US Customs and Border Protection until they pointlessly moved from 9mm to .40 S&W.
The 230 grain .45 ACP is used by the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team.
The 165 grain .40 S&W is used by the Tulsa, Oklahoma Police Department.
When buying Remington’s Golden Saber ammunition keep in mind that law enforcement almost always uses the bonded +P variation in their full-size and mid-size duty pistols. (except for .40 S&W as there is no such thing as .40 S&W +P). Before buying +P ammunition make sure that your pistol is designed to shoot +P ammunition. If you have a Glock or Smith & Wesson M&P pistol then you are good to go with +P ammo. If you have a pistol whose operating manual states that you should not use +P ammunition (such as a Smith & Wesson Shield), or a smaller frame handgun that might be too punishing to shoot with +P ammunition, you should choose the standard velocity version.
Both standard velocity and +P velocity Golden Saber ammunition is available to order at Ammunition To Go.
This ammunition is available in standard velocity with packaging labeled “Personal Defense”, and +P velocities with packaging labeled “Tactical”.
The “Tactical” +P ammunition exceeds the FBI’s barrier penetration requirement.
The letters are not an acronym for anything specific, although the internet is full of suggestions (example: “Hydra Skok Two”).
Used by the Portland, Oregon, and San Diego, California police departments.
With 9mm 147 grain +P JHP you still get fantastic expansion even with subsonic velocity (1050 FPS). This is a good round for suppressed 9mm handguns.
Federal’s website will not show their +P “Tactical” loadings on their website. You can view +P loadings on the chart that is included in the photo collage above (click to enlarge). You can find both standard pressure and +P HST ammunition for sale at Ammunition To Go.
When buying Federal HST ammunition keep in mind that law enforcement almost always uses the law enforcement “Tactical” +P variation of the HST ammunition in their full-size and mid-size duty pistols. (except for .40 S&W as there is no such thing as .40 S&W +P). Before buying +P ammunition make sure that your pistol is designed to shoot +P ammunition. If you have a Glock or Smith & Wesson M&P pistol then you are good to go with +P ammo. If you have a pistol whose operating manual states that you should not use +P ammunition (such as a Smith & Wesson Shield), or a smaller frame handgun that might be too punishing to shoot with +P ammunition, then choose the standard velocity “Personal Defense” version.
Winchester PDX1 Defender
(successor to the Ranger line of ammunition):
The Supreme Elite .40 S&W caliber version of Winchester’s PDX1 is currently the primary service cartridge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI is currently in the process of switching to 9mm and the ammunition they will use has not been announced yet.
The PDX1 can trace its lineage back to the Ranger*, SXT, and the infamous Black Talon lines of ammunition.
The PDX1 is bonded. Older bullets in its lineage, such as the SXT were not bonded.
*Winchester’s law enforcement “Ranger -T” line of ammunition with SXT projectile is still in wide use by many law enforcement agencies.